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The robo-remake stomps quite heavily into theaters

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Robocop 2014

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Director José Padilha brings us another rehash of an old classic. “Robocop,” comes back to the big screen with a new cast, some new faces and a new suit.

Joel Kinnaman fills the metal shoes of Pete Weller as loyal husband, father and heroic cop on a deadly mission, Alex Murphy. After his death Murphy’s wife Clara (Abbie Cornish) gives permission to Omnicorp to reconstitute her husband into a half human, half machine to win over the voting American public.

Meant to be a hero on the streets of a 2028 Detroit, Robocop goes off the reservation by solving his own murder and seeking a dispassionate revenge on the parties responsible for cop corruption, his death and the traumatization of his wide eyed, but otherwise unnecessary son.

With a perfunctory performance Kinnaman doesn’t need the suit to be stiff and emotionless. But he does a better job swaying my sensitivities than Cornish who plays his distraught and abandoned wife who’s being led astray by Omnicorp. All that golden beauty can’t disguise her flat foray into the life of a woman who’s lost a husband to transhumanism and corporate ownership.

This is a guy’s movie all the way, or it’s for chicks who love Call of Duty without the thrill of getting that head shot herself. The combat simulation and actual combat scenes are fun, but come with such frequency and similarity that they feel stale and superfluous.

With the addition of such Hollywood heavy hitters as Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Keaton and Gary Oldman, the expectation is that “Robocop” will rise above the string of imagination-challenged remakes that now define cinema, but unfortunately with an undeveloped plot and more severely underdeveloped subplot this visit to the 80s feels best served by leaving it there.

The movie begins with a generous enough crime mystery, but then is abandoned for too long in favor of the lengthy transformation scenes. The core conflict of cop betrayed by his own is lost.

I don’t remember having to watch breathing exposed lungs and mushy brains in the first make and really wanted to gag, actually I think I did, watching them here. An unnecessary visual that serves no other purpose than being gross.

Once Robocop is released onto the streets it gets a little greasy and the story just slips by in an anemic attempt at action. After the millionth time we have to witness his weak ass murder it’s clear the story is too puny to distract us from the thromp of his annoying footfalls and whir of his mechanized limbs.

The key theme and main source of intrigue is our definition of safety and trust. With Samuel L. Jackson’s over the top advocacy for machine occupation it’s unclear which stance the movie takes. Does it really believe America is the greatest place on earth and would benefit from these kinds of forces “protecting” it or is it making fun of an America that might believe this?

Can American policy makers who are in bed with the very corporations who stand to benefit from wartime machinery on American soil be trusted with the future of American safety? Or, is this movie commenting on how corporations and our government unite to exploit the sensibilities and fears of the American public and manipulate voters to support policies that harm them?

This is a “to be or not to be” story. Is America to be occupied by “incorruptible” automatic gun toting machines without feelings or not to be? The basic and obvious controversy of the American people’s “robophobia” is questioned. The less obvious and real world question concerning the value of American lives over the lives of world citizens is also raised along with the value or cost of public opinion.

It’s a timely topic as we stabilize and pacify other countries. Also, the idea of being the property of some corporation is just sad, but not too far from where we all are.

Manipulation is the root motivation for most of the supporting characters, some for good, some for self (and thus evil?). Each American represents something that corporations want – a vote and dollars. That is the nature of capitalism, yet, here we get a story that demonizes it.

I wish I had better things to say about this film having loved the original, with Kinnaman and his family ties to Kansas City, Kansas and my love for both Keaton and Oldman, but unfortunately the studios have not yet realized that to remake a classic means they must improve upon it and “Robocop” 2014 does nothing to warrant this intrusion on the 1980s.

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